Death of Kevin Carter

“Kevin always carried around the horror of the work he did,” -Kevin Carter’s father wrote to the South African Press Association.

Four months after winning his Pulitzer Prize, Kevin Carter committed suicide at the age of 33 on July 27, 1994.  He locked himself in his car, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Many critics cite his death to be his response to dealing with the reactions to his photo and the questioning of his ethics. While his friends (Marinovich and Silva) said he often spoke of his regret not picking up the girl, his suicide was cited to be due to a multitude of reasons.

In his suicide note, he writes:

“I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken [recently deceased colleague Ken Oosterbroek] if I am that lucky.”

The New York Times wrote an obituary to honor him. Here is the original archival link to read the article:

Years later, Time Magazine also wrote an article around him to speak about his death. While some felt like it did him justice, Kevin Carter’s sister wrote this in response to the article:

“The Pulitzer Prize certainly didn’t send Kevin ‘deeper into anguish’,” she wrote, “if anything, it was confirmation that his work had all been worthwhile. Your version of Kevin’s death seems so futile.”

As we will see in the next post, Carter’s interesting death led to pop culture creating a movie centering around Carter, and his friends in the Bang Bang Club.





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